Top 10 Rivalries in Video Game History: Console vs. PC Gaming and More
The entire video game industry is built upon foundations created by rivalries. The games that would later spawn a multi-billion dollar industry such as Pong and Pac-Man were all based around the concept that we’d want to beat our friends and their high scores, and it’s this competition that has driven the manufacturing of consoles and the development of games ever since.
We all just want to win, and when you take a look at the companies who are letting us play these games, it’s clear that they’re no different, either. There have been many hard-fought battles in the history of the gaming industry, but none were greater than the following.
Here are the top 10 greatest rivalries in video game history.
10: Wii Motion Control vs. PS Move vs. Kinect
Unlike the rest of the rivalries featured in this countdown, the battle between Nintendo’s motion-controlled console the Wii, Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s PS Move really had no definitive winner when you look at the devices with the benefit of hindsight.
Yes, the Wii was certainly the winner in terms of sales and general consumer reception, but its popularity arguably hindered the success of Nintendo’s follow-up system, the Wii U. The Wii was the most inclusive gaming console to date, allowing players of all ages to pick up a Wiimote for a spot of Wii Sports tennis or bowling. However, the Wii U’s GamePad left those same players in the lurch, and the Wii’s heaps of shovelware and mini-game collections had served to alienate many long-term gamers who had left the little console to gather dust on their shelf.
Microsoft allowed the Kinect to continue to hurt them with the release of the Xbox One’s Kinect 2.0.
The Wii also served to kick start one of the most loathed periods in modern video game history, with both Microsoft and Sony attempting to deliver motion-controlled experiences of their own. Sony came up with the PS Move, a more responsive yet shameless rip-off of the Wiimote, while Microsoft released the Kinect, an initially awe-inspiring piece of tech that tracked players’ movements and didn’t require the use of a controller, drawing comparisons with the interface used by Tom Cruise’s character in the film Minority Report.
It certainly looked like the future, but it released to a middling reception thanks to its poor-to-average functionality and a lackluster line-up of software. However, Microsoft didn’t dismiss it as a failed experiment and move on; they instead developed the Kinect 2.0 for the Xbox One, which despite being a huge improvement upon the original Kinect, still failed to inveigle consumers and actually hindered sales of their new console, due to its price point having to be raised to accommodate for the motion-control camera.
The Wiimote helped to sell far more Wiis than anyone could have anticipated, making it the most successful hardware of the last console generation. While its success as an inclusive games machine and failures as a breeding ground for shovelware has perhaps hindered the progress of the Wii U, it marked an important turning point for the gaming industry and helped to introduce many to the medium.
On the other hand, the PS Move quickly disappeared from relevancy due to a lack of software and public interest, while Microsoft refused to let go of the Kinect and allowed the device to continue to hurt the company following the introduction of the Xbox One’s Kinect 2.0.
The Wii and its motion-controlled Wiimote take this one.
9: Call of Duty vs. Battlefield
Activision and EA have been going at it tough-and-nail in the first-person shooter genre, with the latter making consistent attempts at toppling the mighty Call of Duty from its throne.
Interestingly, despite it being almost unfathomable to picture a time when Call of Duty wasn’t the poster-child for successful console FPS games, the series was allegedly initially codenamed “MoH Killer,” as its developer Infinity Ward was formed in 2003 during a time when Medal of Honor was the shooter to beat. While the initial Call of Duty games were consistently entertaining, it wasn’t until Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that the series really took off, beginning a long reign of triumph for publisher Activision.
The Call of Duty series was initially codenamed “Medal of Honor Killer.”
EA eventually pushed back with a “touted “CoD killer” in the form of the 2010 reboot of Medal of Honor, which brought the franchise up-to-date with its Modern Warfare leanings but failed to match the CoD series on mostly all counts, most notably with its startlingly poor multiplayer component. The company didn’t directly state that Call of Duty as the series to beat, but it was clear to everyone that they were training their sights on Activision.
The rivalry was only made blatantly obvious when EA began beating its chest about Battlefield 4, with the company stating that it wanted the series to become the number one video game franchise out there, aiming to beat Activision’s upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts. One of the company’s QA testers claimed that EA had even hurried developer DICE’s work on the game to ensure that it launched two weeks before Ghosts, in order to get the jump on Activision.
While Battlefield 4 was the better game, with Call of Duty: Ghosts being the most poorly-received iteration in the series thus far, a larger marketing budget and more consumer awareness still led to Ghosts achieving the most sales. However, Battlefield 4 wasn’t without its problems, either, as the game suffered crippling launch issues that made its online modes nigh-on unplayable, leading to a huge backlash against both EA and DICE.
Despite strong sales for both games, the fallout following their respective releases was a mixed bag for both companies, though Call of Duty still remains atop the throne even if it is decidedly less comfortably positioned than it was before the release of Ghosts.
8: Nintendo Handhelds vs. Sony Handhelds
Nintendo’s grip on the handheld console market since the release of the Game Boy has been unshakable, though Sony hoped to change that with its release of the PSP back in 2005.
Released in the US a few months after the launch of the DS, Sony pitched the PlayStation Portable as the go-to portable system for those who wanted to take the home console experience out of the living room, with it being a sleek-looking handheld that trounced the plasticky aesthetics of the DS, along with boasting the ability to play multimedia files such as movies thanks to its Universal Media Disc (UMD) support. Despite launching with a retail price $100 more expensive than the DS the console was still met by a warm consumer reception, particularly in the UK where it more than doubled the DS’ launch-day record of 87,000 units sold, with Sony managing to shift 185,000 devices in its first day of release.
But while the PSP bested the DS in the sprint, the DS ultimately succeeded in the marathon, with Nintendo’s split-screen portable console eventually managing to outsell the PSP 2:1 in Japan, going on to become the second best-selling console of all time, sitting pretty behind the PlayStation 2 with around 155 million units sold worldwide. Meanwhile, though the PSP performed well in terms of hardware sales considering that Sony had entered a market completely dominated by Nintendo, software sales were slow due to its games being pirated. Though the PSP is hardly the failure it is often touted as being, enjoying particular success in Japan thanks to it hosting the hugely popular Monster Hunter series, it failed to topple Nintendo’s DS in the long run.
With consumer interest in 3D technology dwindling, it seemed as though Sony might gain the upper hand with the Vita.
However, the unexpected success of the PSP and its various updates saw Sony take another leap into the portable market with the PlayStation Vita, this time going head-to-head with the Nintendo 3DS. With consumer interest in 3D technology dwindling, it seemed as though Sony might gain the upper hand this time round. The PS Vita certainly looked the part, with its twin analog sticks and bright, qHD (that’s technically a quarter of full HD) screen making it far more appealing than its rival.
Unfortunately for Sony, launch sales of the 3DS were impressive, breaking records after selling just under 400,000 units in its first full week on sale in the US, with around 370,800 consoles being shifted across its launch weekend in Japan. Sales of the Vita failed to stack up, though sales of the 3DS would eventually begin to dwindle considerably, leading Nintendo to issue a rapid price cut. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata would later blame the poor sales on the company not being able “to launch Nintendo 3DS at a time when a sufficient number of strong software titles were ready.”
However, the 3DS would rise from the ashes after delivering a one-two punch in the form of Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, two games which helped drive sales for the console. Since then the release of games such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Pokemon X & Y and Super Smash Bros. have helped turn the fortunes of the system around, while the PS Vita is still struggling in terms of software.
While both the 3DS and the PS Vita have failed to mirror the success of their predecessors, Nintendo’s latest handheld console has undoubtedly got the greater line-up of software and is benefiting from stronger sales. The PS Vita is the best piece of tech by a considerable margin, but it fails to stack up to its rival in terms of what it has to offer. Sony now completely fails to mention the Vita in its press events, which is a good indication of where the console ranks in its list of priorities. As much as we love Persona 4 Golden, there’s no denying that in terms of quantity, the 3DS has a much better roster of great games. Unless Sony makes drastic changes to its stance on the Vita, the 3DS will remain the winner.